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The American Independent

Kevin McCarthy has not kept the few promises he first ran on

The California Republican has not followed through on the policies he proposed during his 2002 State Assembly campaign and 2006 U.S. House campaign.

By Josh Israel - November 30, 2022
Kevin McCarthy 2006
Assembly Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, right, and Minority Leader elect George Plescia, R-La Jolla, left, confer before an evening Assembly session at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, March 15, 2006. With a deadline of midnight Wednesday for passage of a infrastructure bond package looming, lawmakers worked into the night in an attempt to reach a compromise. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is campaigning to become the next speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives when Republicans take the majority in January.

McCarthy’s current campaign site begins with the headline “PROMISES MADE, PROMISES KEPT.” But a look back at his initial 2002 campaign for the California State Assembly and his 2006 race for the U.S. House finds that he has not kept all of the promises he made back then.

An archived version of McCarthy’s 2002 State Assembly campaign site contains an issues page that centers on three topics: integrity, education, and infrastructure.

The section on integrity says:

I’m concerned that, in the past eight years, America and California have gotten seriously off-track on integrity and accountability of elected officials. Some polls indicate that many voters think it’s okay for politicians to lie. I find it deeply troubling, if it is a trend that continues. I’m hopeful that new leadership at the top in our nation will bring about a change. I think what people, who are candidates for office, like me, can do is to put the issue of truthfulness and candor up front in our campaigns and let voters know we expect to be held accountable.

McCarthy has not done that. The fact-check site PolitiFact has documented numerous examples of McCarthy himself making false statements.

He endorsed and continues to back former President Donald Trump, who made more than 30,000 false or misleading claims during his single term in the White House, according to the Washington Post.

On Tuesday, McCarthy lied about Trump’s recent meeting with white supremacist Nick Fuentes, falsely claiming that Trump had condemned Fuentes.

A McCarthy spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

McCarthy’s 2002 campaign website page also urges education reform, calling for less “state interference in local school operations” and “more local control so teachers, administrators and parents can make decisions regarding curriculum and policy that is best for their students.”

This did not stop McCarthy from backing federal legislation to force school districts to bar transgender students from playing sports with kids of their gender identity and pushing for the federal government to force all local school systems to reopen schools during the COVID-19 pandemic for in-person instruction.

The education section of his current House page makes no mention of local control, though the site does include a 2017 press release titled, “Education is Best Managed at the Local Level.”

Despite his talk about supporting infrastructure, McCarthy voted against a $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure investment package in November 2021 and actively lobbied his caucus to oppose it.

When Rep. Bill Thomas (R-CA) retired in 2006, McCarthy — then the minority leader in the California State Assembly — easily won the primary and general election to succeed him. His minimalist campaign site boasts of his work to improve infrastructure “without raising taxes or fees on working families” and touts his record of pushing for lower taxes overall.

In interviews that year with the San Luis Obispo Tribune, McCarthy called himself a “common-sense conservative” who would focus on cutting taxes and balancing the federal budget.

“I’m going to make sure I bring the San Luis Obispo and Kern County values to Washington,” he told the paper in 2006. “We want quality of life in the 22nd district. That means quality education and business and more money people can take home.”

But the budget deficit grew significantly larger on his watch, including after he became House majority whip in January 2011 and majority leader in the summer of 2014. He backed the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which added between $1 trillion and $2 trillion to the national debt over seven years.

And while the legislation cut taxes for many — especially corporations and wealthy individuals — it raised the tax burden for an estimated 10 million Americans. Its provisions capping state and local tax deductions meant higher taxes for a million households in his own state of California alone.

Still, McCarthy continues to present himself as an advocate for lower taxes and fiscal responsibility.

Published with permission from The American Independent Foundation.

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